February 10, 2014

On this day February 10th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

10 February, 1991 Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok said that between 1921 and 1986 more than 17 million people had been arrested under influx control laws also known as the pass laws in South Africa.

Slaves at the Cape were forced to carry passes. This made it easier for their owners and the local authorities to control their movements.

The first time Pass documents were used to restrict the movement of non-European South Africans was in the early 1800’s. However, slaves at the Cape had been forced to carry Passes since 1709. Farmers at the Cape ran short of labour during the first British occupation of the southern tip of Africa in 1795, with its subsequent abolition of slavery in 1808. Until that time Dutch farmers employed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) supplied fresh food to passing ships using slave labour to stock up the refreshment station. They could still sell slaves within the colony, but were prohibited from importing new slaves. The settlers and government turned to the indigenous Khoikhoi people to fill the labour gap.

Local farmers began employing more local Khoikhoi people when they ran short of labour at the Cape.

The Khoikhoi had lost their land to the colonizers in the late 1700’s and were forced to work for European landowners to survive.The colonial government turned a blind eye to the widespread mistreatment of Khoikhoi workers. These workers had to carry ‘permission documents’ from their employers allowing them to leave the farms they worked on. The arrival of Christian missionaries brought about slight improvements following criticism of the treatment of the Khoikhoi. Eventually, Ordinance 50 was published in 1828 placing the Khoikhoi on equal footing with their White employers and freeing them of having to carry passes.

Pass laws were intended to force Black people to settle in specific places in order to provide White farmers with a steady source of labour.


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